Archive for the ‘ ~3 to 5 Miles~ ’ Category

Dark Swamp – Glocester

  • Dark Swamp
  • Willie Woodhead Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’3.72″N, 71°45’48.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, otherwise fairly easy with some elevation.

 

In November of 1923, two young explorers set out from Providence to find the swamp that for years was reputed to be cursed. The stories date back to when the colonists were settling the area. It is believed that they were warned by the Natives of this area and its curse to keep the colonists from this land. It is also said that several of the colonists who did not heed the warning were never seen again. These two young explorers never did reach their destination that day. They were Clifford Eddy and H.P. Lovecraft, (at the time unknown) horror story authors. In September of 2017, a group of hikers led by members of the Northwest Rhode Island Supporters of Open Space set out to Dark Swamp ignoring the heeded warnings. They were successful! Dark Swamp was found and they all made it out to tell the story. It is suggested however, that if you do head out for this hike, be sure to use a GPS device as most of the trails are not marked and there are plenty of side trails and spurs. Starting at a cul-de-sac at the end of Willie Woodhead Road we made our way along the trail in a southerly direction as it climbed slightly uphill. Ahead this trail meets the North South Trail. Bear to the right and follow the blue blazed trail. There are trails to both the right and left that are mostly grass covered. Ignore them and continue straight. At the half mile mark there is a trail on the right with a cellar hole. You will return on this trail. Continue straight passing over a large outcrop of a rock believe to be a threshing rock. Shortly after this rock on the left there is another narrow and grassy trail. Take it, the trail splits, stay to the left and follow the narrow trail. It leads to old ice pond. From here retrace your steps back to the blue blazed North South Trail and continue south. Starting looking for a trail on the right (about 9/10 of a mile into the hike). Take the right, then almost immediately left. Continue straight, passing yet another spur trail on the right, the trail vanishes into a field of ferns. Ahead and below is the first glimpse of the Dark Swamp with its near black water covered with a twisted and interlaced brush over it.  This area offers many other sights of swamps. Turn around passing the spur trail (now on your left) and instead of turning right onto the trail you came in on, turn left. This trail, unmarked, winds to the west and then north passing some stone walls before ending. Take note of your surroundings here. At the intersection you will exit to the right when you return. For now turn left. This trail will lead you into the depths of Dark Swamp. Shortly you will see another swamp on the right. Just beyond this swamp you will start to see piles of rocks. These are cairns, similar to the ones in Parker Woodland. Locals believe they may be from the Native Americans. Continuing ahead you will come to another trail intersection. Stay to left here and soon you will catch a glimpse of the swamp once again on the left. At the time of this hike we saw frogs and a heron here. The trail then climbs up and over a rather impressive hill before winding through a hemlock grove. The trail all but ends as you approach the large body of water created by beavers. Here is one of the largest swamps in the area complete with beaver dam and beaver hut. This is great spot for a break and to take in nature. From here retrace your steps pass the swamps and cairns. Continue straight at the “noted” intersection. It soon passes an old building and cellar hole on the left. At the end of this trail turn left. You are now back on the blue blazed North South Trail. The trail back to the car will be on your left. Hunting is allowed here, blaze orange is required during hunting season. And again, use GPS here.

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The Swamp at the End of The Trail. (Note the Beaver Hut)

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Newport Mansions – Newport

  • Newport Mansions Walk
  • Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°28’9.80″N, 71°17’58.48″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.9 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

The city by the sea has a long history, from the American Revolution to the America’s Cup. Newport’s most famous attractions though are the mansions built by some of America’s wealthiest people. This walk visits most of the mansions and includes a section of the famed Cliff Walk. The walk itself takes about two and a half hours at a very leisurely pace (not including visits to the mansions). Starting from the parking lot for The Breakers at the corner of Ochre Point Avenue and Victoria Avenue, head south on Ochre Point Avenue and the left onto Ruggles Avenue toward the sea. Along the way you will be following the tall wrought iron fence with limestone pillars that borders of one of the most famed mansions. When you reach the end of the road turn left onto the Cliff Walk. To your right is the ocean and on your left is the large lawn and back of The Breakers. This mansion, built in 1895, was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and today is the most visited site in Rhode Island. Continuing along the Cliff Walk you soon come upon Salve Regina University. Here is another large mansion, being Ochre Court. This is the second largest mansion in Newport (after the Breakers) and was built in 1892. Continuing to Narragansett Avenue you will come to the famed Forty Steps. Here you get a unique opportunity to make your way below the Cliff Walk to the rocky shoreline below. The steps and rocks tend to be wet so be sure to exercise extreme caution here. After climbing up the steps you will then leave the Cliff Walk and head west on Narragansett Avenue to the famed Bellevue Avenue. There are several private residences along this stretch that are quite impressive. Along the way and on the right is Chepstow. This mansion was built in 1860 and set back off of Narragansett Avenue. The mansion is actually quite difficult to see from the road as its gardens and trees hide it from view. In mid July the hydrangeas are quite impressive. Ahead on the left at the intersection of Bellevue Avenue is a large stone house. This is the Osgood-Pell House, built in 1887, and is home to the Preservation Society of Newport County. Continuing, turn right onto Bellevue Avenue, you will next pass the White Lodge Condominiums on the right before coming to The Elms on the left. This mansion, built in 1901, is quite close to the street and has large wrought iron gates. Behind the mansion is a large lawn and gardens. There are a couple more smaller mansions to the north along Bellevue Avenue, most notably Kingscote and the Isaac Bell House. For this walk, however, reverse your direction and start heading south on Bellevue Avenue passing Narragansett Avenue. In a few blocks you will come to the Chateau-sur-Mer. This mansion, built in 1852 of Fall River granite, ushered in Newport’s gilded age. Continuing along Bellevue Avenue you will pass Vernon Court, the Illustration Museum and its clock before coming to Rosecliff. This mansion, built in 1902, is set back off the road and has a large sprawling lawn in front of it. In the right light you can see through the large windows of the mansion and see the ocean behind it. The ballroom at Rosecliff has been featured in several films including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and Amistad. Continuing south you will pass the (formally Astors) Beechwood Mansion, currently being renovated, before coming to the Marble House. Built in 1892, and resembling the White House in Washington D.C., this was another of the Vanderbilt mansions. Behind the mansion (and viewed best from the Cliff Walk) is the famed Chinese Tea House. From the Marble House turn around and follow Bellevue Avenue to the north retracing your steps for a few blocks. You will be looking for a one way sign at Marine Avenue. There is no actual street sign for this street so be sure not to miss it. The street looks like a driveway. Turn here and follow the street to the east as it narrows to almost just a cart path. Ahead and beyond the gate is the Cliff Walk once again. Take a look to your right and notice the Tea House in the distance. For this walk turn left and follow the Cliff Walk over the “sea wall” and then around the bend at Anglesea. A ramp then brings you up to the end of Ruggles Avenue. Turn left, then right onto Ochre Point Avenue to the parking lot for the Breakers. This walk could take almost literally all day if you choose to actually tour the mansions.

 

Trail map can be found at: Newport Mansions.

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The Breakers From The Cliff Walk

Block Island Southeast – New Shoreham

  • Block Island Southeast
  • Water Street, New Shoreham, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°10’24.56″N, 71°33’27.22″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 13, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.5 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation, optional strenuous stairs.

 

This walk from the ferry dock in Old Harbor leads to some of the most picturesque sights along the eastern seaboard. Though mostly road walking, the route visits the Mohegan Bluffs and the famous Southeast Lighthouse. In fact this route could easily be done on a bicycle if you choose to ride instead of walk. There are several bike rentals available on the island including Beach Rose Bicycles. Starting from the ferry dock turn left onto Water Street (southerly direction) towards the rotary with the Statue of Rebecca. At the rotary turn right onto High Street and start the slow climb uphill. Traffic tends to be busy here so stay on the sidewalk. The street is flanked by several cottages and B & B’s. On the left is a worthwhile stop. The Nature Conservancy’s Block Island office is here. There are maps available of the islands trails for a small fee. Just behind the Nature Conservancy building is the backside of Abrams Animal Farm which offers a collection of animals including goats, emus, lemurs, and kangaroos. Continuing along High Street you will come to the “last chance” for snacks, water, or supplies at the general store on the left. Ahead you will come to the Block Island School at the intersection of Payne Road. Continuing straight the road becomes Pilot Hill Road and continues to gradually climb uphill and eventually turns to a dirt road. At the top of the hill, 178 feet above sea level, is a monument to the pilots of Block Island. You will notice that the Dodge family dominates the list of names on the monument. Pilot Hill Road then passes John E’s Pond on the right. In May the shad brush that surrounds the pond (and most of the island) is in bloom. Soon Pilot Hill Road ends. Continue straight here and cross the main road into a dirt parking area. From here follow the short path to the first glimpse of Mohegan Bluffs. The view is quite breathtaking and reminiscence of Ireland. From this vantage point you can see the newly built wind turbines that supply power to the island. On clear days to the right you can see Montauk Point in New York. To the left you can see your next two stops, the stairs of Payne Overlook and the Southeast Light. To get to the Payne Overlook retrace your steps back to the main road and follow it to the east. In a few hundred feet there is a parking area with a large sign. The short trail here leads to the top of the stairs that wind nearly 200 feet below. At the end of the stairs, you can make your way down to the beach. It is highly advised to do this at your own risk. From here you get a sense of just how massive these bluffs are as the ocean waves break on the narrow strand. To the east from this point is the open Atlantic Ocean to Portugal. The next stop is the lighthouse. Start by retracing your steps, literally all nine flights of them, up the bluffs. Stop! Take a breather, then retrace your steps back to the road turn right and look for the Mohegan Bluffs monument on the right. The monument gives a short description of how the Mohegan Indians were driven off of these bluffs by the local Manissean Tribe. Just beyond the monument is the famous Southeast Light. Built in 1873, the 52 foot tower, with its lens, offers as a green flashing beacon that can be seen for 23 miles (20 nautical miles). The lighthouse and its museum are open during the summer months. In 1993, the lighthouse was moved inland several hundred feet due to the eroding bluffs. A large boulder sits where the lighthouse once did. For the remainder of this walk return to the road (Spring Street) and turn right. The road will lead you back to town descending for quite a while before coming to the waters edge once again. The road then turns abruptly left and slightly uphill as you pass the Spring House. This will be the first of several famous Block Island Hotels along Spring Street as the walk leads back into town. Spring Street ends at the rotary, continue straight back onto Water Street. The ferry dock will be on your right and several shops and restaurants will be on the left.

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Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Light.

King Preserve – North Kingstown

  • King/Benson Preserve
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’56.02″N, 71°25’23.72″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 25, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

Named for Dave King, the first executive director of the Champlin Foundations, this is Rhode Islands newest Nature Conservancy property that now has trails open to the public. It is so new in fact that the trails in the Benson Preserve property are still under development. The property is just north of Casey Farm and stretches from Boston Neck Road westward to the Narrow River. The blue trail from the main parking area meanders westerly into the property, passing stone walls and small boulders, for about a mile before coming to the yellow trails. Turn left at the yellow trail and follow it to its end. Along the way look for a rather unusual rock on the right that seems to point. You will pass a yellow trail to the right as well. You will return on this trail. At the end of the yellow trail you will come to a four way intersection. The yellow loop trail is to your immediate right and a trail spurs to the left to Casey Farm. Ahead and to the right is the white blazed Pettaquamscutt Trail. Follow this trail to two of the preserve features. The first on the left is a small beach that overlooks Narrow River. This is an old Girl Scout Camp beach. Back on the white trail you will soon find yourself walking through a canopy of tall spruce trees. Here we spotted a fox. The white blazed trail then turns to the right and comes to a set of trickling waterfalls. Continuing along the trail you soon cross onto the Benson Preserve. There is signage indicating that the trails are still being developed. From here you can retrace your steps or forge ahead follow the un-blazed trails. If you choose the later be sure to use some sort of GPS in case you need to backtrack and be very aware of your footing. The white trail is blazed for a few more hundred feet. Soon you will see a trail to the right. It is currently marked with pink survey flagging. Following this flagging (soon to be blazed white) and carefully following the currently less defined trail you will come to a wood footbridge at a stream crossing. A few feet after that you will turn left onto the blazed yellow trail. Follow this trail to its end turning left again onto the main yellow trail. From here retrace your steps back to the parking area following the yellow then blue trails. Hunting is allowed on this preserve, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

A note about the bordering Casey Farm property: Casey Farm is open to the public during daylight hours for hiking trails at Casey Point or those adjacent to King Preserve. Please note dogs must be on leashes, clean up of course, and respect the young people and farm animals by keeping dogs away from the farmyard and fields. Access Casey’s woodland trails via the King Preserve. Camp Grosvenor is not open to the public for hiking. Access Casey Point on Narragansett Bay via the gate on Boston Neck Road. We are working on getting better signage. Feel free to contact me with any questions: Jane Hennedy, site manager, 401-295-1030 ext. 5, jhennedy@historicnewengland.org.

 

Trail maps can be found at: King Preserve

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Spruce Grove

Browning Woods Farm – South Kingstown

  • Browning Woods Farm
  • Shannock Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°24’47.16″N, 71°36’22.06″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 30, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

At the extreme western edge of South Kingstown lies Browning Woods Farm. This property, owned by the South Kingstown Land Trust, was part of the original Pettaquamscutt Purchase of 1657 and belonged to the Browning Family as far back as the early 1700’s. The farm was used mostly to raise animals such as sheep, cattle, and pigs. Today there is a two mile loop and a half mile access trail that winds through the property. There is quite an elevation change on the property but it is so gradual that it is almost unnoticed. The trail passes several stone walls and the Browning Homestead where there is an impressive cellar hole. There are several side trails and old woods roads that spur off the blue blazed loop trail. Be sure to stay on the well marked blue blazed trail. Along with maples and pines there are also holly trees and winterberry. Chipmunks and squirrels can be seen here as well as a variety of songbirds. This is a great hike for someone who is just getting started with local hiking as the trail is easy to follow and mostly flat.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Browning Woods Farm

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Stone Walls And Boardwalks

Sprague Hill – Glocester

  • Sprague Hill
  • Putnam Pike, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°55’15.19″N, 71°44’17.69″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 28, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.7 miles
  • Moderate, areas can be difficult due to weather.

This three and a half mile hike explores the lesser traveled paths of two well known hiking destinations and a connecting road between them that crosses over Sprague Hill. Starting at a parking area along Putnam Pike for the Durfee Hill Management Area follow the dirt road beyond the gate. The road winds south before first coming to an area on the left with a small waterfall and some old stone work along Brandy Brook. Continuing ahead the road turns to the right. The trail to the left you will return on. At the next split the follow the road to the left and it will come to Burlingame Reservoir. There are some blazes and marks in this area presumably used by cyclists, ignore them for this hike. Next you will cross the earthen dam of the reservoir. The view of is quite nice here. The next part of this hike can be quite difficult after some rain. The unmarked but relatively defined trail turns away from the reservoir. It is a very rocky trail and after some rain can be quite wet and somewhat flooded. Take your time here and be sure to follow the trail. It soon comes to an intersection. Take a good look around and familiarize yourself with the intersection. You will be returning to this point but following a different trail out. At this point turn right and follow the trail to the southwest. This trail is actually Elbow Rock Road and it is fairly narrow, channeled in areas, and travels gradually up Sprague Hill for about a half mile. Much like the previous trail, it is quite rocky and areas and will be wet, almost stream like, after significant precipitation. The trail is also flanked by areas of mountain laurel and hemlocks. Do note that there are “No Trespassing” signs on each side of the trail after you leave the Durfee Hill Management Area. The trail itself lies within a public right of way. Be sure to stay on this trail ignoring other trails that spur off in either direction until you reach the top of the hill at a four way trail intersection with a parking area. The trail to the left is actually the end of Sprague Hill Road and the lesser known small parking area is public parking for Sprague Farm. For this hike continue straight and follow the dirt road slightly downhill. You may notice white dot blazes here. This is part of the Sprague Farm trail network. Soon on the right you will find a narrow unmarked trail that crosses over a large section of outcrop. Turn here and follow the trail that climbs the hill. This is Elbow Rock. There are no sweeping views here but be aware of the edges. The rock is rather large and looms high above the surrounding forest. From here follow the trail over the rock and to the left back down to Elbow Rock Road. Turn left and retrace your steps back up and over Sprague Hill a little over a mile to the intersection that you had familiarized yourself with. From here follow the trail mostly straight, along the main trail, as it winds to the pond. There is a large field to the right if you choose to explore it. Next the trail comes to another earthen dam and a smaller pond on the left. After heavy rains this is also a challenge as an area of the dam is slightly compromised and water flows over it into Brandy Brook. Next there is a small bridge that crosses a stonework channel. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed in these areas, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

Trail maps can be found at: Sprague Hill

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Burlingame Reservoir

Wakefield Pond – Burrillville/Thompson

  • Wakefield Pond
  • Wakefield Road, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°58’15.94″N,71°47’51.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 21, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Moderate due to footing and some elevation.

 

Wakefield Pond is often overlooked as it lies between some of the more predominate recreational areas. The Buck Hill Management Area to the north, the George Washington Management Area to the south, and the Quaddick State Forest to the west often overshadow this area. The pond is flanked to the west by a Boy Scout Camp and the northeast by a couple dozen homes. This hike is an out and back that follows dirt roads. Starting from the corner of Wakefield Road where it bends onto Croff Road there is a dirt road that heads to the east. Almost immediately you will come upon a historical cemetery on the left. The road then starts to descend downhill, into Thompson, to a four way intersection. Along the way there are a few trails to the left. Notice the “No Trespassing” signs, this is the land of the Boy Scouts. When you have reached to intersection turn left. This is Wakefield Pond Road and it heads south through the Quaddick State Forest for a bit before coming to more Boy Scout property. There is a long steady stretch of uphill walking here. After the top of the hill you will see a cellar hole on the right with an old shed behind it. The road then descends downhill once again and curves to the left heading back into Burrillville after crossing Blackmore Brook. In the distance to the left you will see the stonework of the stone and earthen dam that holds the water in Wakefield Pond. There is a trail to the left that leads to a wooden bridge and dam. This is private property. Continue ahead for a view of the pond. Next there is a road to the right that leads to Peck Pond. For this hike continue straight along the road. At the one and a half mile mark, just as the pond starts to turn away from the pond, there is a nice little spot with a sweeping view of the pond. From here retrace your steps back to the beginning of the hike. The roads that you follow for this hike are rather rocky, some loose in many spots. Beware of your footing.

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Fall Colors By The Pond.